Saturday, June 30, 2007

Surge Metrics

Bill Roggio continues to provide a comprehensive overview of Operation Phantom Thunder. His current report contains a compendium of status reports for Baghdad from April and June presented as a narrative. The same results are presented in tabular form below:


Total Neighborhoods****474

I'm sure that July and August will show diminishing returns and there is always the potential problem of the IA and IP being unable to keep neighborhood in the 'retention' category but very significant progress is obviously being achieved. I'm sure that similiar status breakdowns have been compiled for the 'belts' and I look forward to seeing Bill report on them.

Petraeus has ninety days left in which to make his mark. The PR walkback on Baquba didn't help him a bit so he really needs to move the Baghdad numbers if he expects to retain the modicum amount of Republican support that he now holds. Otherwise we'll be withdrawing to laagers and pulling force levels down whether the Iraqis are "ready" or not.

Which may be precisely what the elected government wants. Oh well. At least the Sunnis are better armed and organized. It won't be a fair fight but they will get their innings in.

The Kurds are proceeding with their oil development plans whether the central government gets its act together or not. Lots of room for nice bases up there.

UPDATE: Yon checks in with a report from the Belts. More upbeat news concerning IA willingness to fight - and more downbeat news about al Queada's willingness to slaughter.

UPDATE: Civilian deaths in Iraq down 36% in June.

Naomi Klein, Howard Rotberg, and the struggle for truth about Israel

I'm sorry I have been absent from Flares for a while as I devoted limited blogging time to trying to build up our little group in Vancouver dedicated to resisting the corrosion of our self-ruling nationhood. One visitor to our Covenant Zone has been the writer, Howard Rotberg, whom I want to tell you about and encourage to check out his book that has landed him in a Kafkaesque nightmare. I will be blogging more about the effectively banned in Canada book and the nightmare. But first, here (below the fold) is a post showing how our media is turning ever more delusional in its quest to appear "progressive", and presenting Howard's response to the invidious Naomi Klein.

Earlier this week, my colleague, Dag, quoted a Palestinian writer who is mightily disturbed that even those Jews who are, like him, politically to the left, may be under the impression that Jewish people have a right to exist as a somewhat compact national people in their own country, like say the Chinese, Pakistanis, or Saudis. In the writer's words:
Those on the "far left," who are [on] the brink of being classified as "self-hating Jews," including self-styled humanitarians such as Meretz MK Yossi Beilin, only serve to massage their own egos and consciences by portraying an image that they are fighting for peace. In reality, these people assign themselves to the same racist and exclusivist ideology that came into form long before the creation of the state of Israel.
Well, it might sound a bit deranged, but he's right, inasmuch as racially-bound and competing communities must have been around since the first human community split into two, some hundreds of thousands of years ago, and racial and/or cultural boundaries have always since remained a part of human life.

But the question he's really asking, while trying to appear authoratative, is this: is a utopian vision of "one-world" with no national or racial boundaries, just one big government, under the hand of, say, Islamic theocrats and/or the technocratic left, more likely to foster peace and harmony (and avoid bloody civil wars) than something like the current inter-national system where nations have a right and a responsibility to defend certain boundaries, including if they so choose (as most nations or states do), racial or religious ones?

The answer is apparent to us here at Covenant Zone, for a number of reasons we frequently discuss and won't recapitulate now. We believe that the blood on the hands of the utopian "one world" or "communist international" left reached around a 100 million in the last century alone (more or less, depending on the individual's brand of leftism - and let's not forget that Hitler was an incipiently post-national leftist), and shows no signs of stopping now with the growing alliance of the left and fundamentalist or Orthodox Islam, not to mention the left's sympathy for various third-world tyrants in the "post-colonial" era.

The horrors of the Western left in supporting angry anti-Western rhetoric, like that Dag uncovered, was again on display in the Georgia Straight last week. The Vancouver weekly reprinted an article by Naomi Klein that originally appeared in Britain's leading leftist paper, the Guardian. It is perhaps not surprising, if heart breaking, that faced with "avant-garde" Palestinian rhetoric in the arenas of "progressive" global opinion elites, rhetoric that now claims even leftist Jews are vile racists if they continue to show any support for Israel's existence as a particular nation (the only serious guarantor of the lives of half the world's Jews), we find leftist Jews, whose very lucrative careers are dependent on one-world leftist "cosmopolitanism", swinging against Israel, as Naomi Klein does.

Klein claims that Israel today has a booming economy because it can sell the world all kinds of security and military hardware and software that is tested on Palestinian "guinea pigs", leading to the implied conclusion that Israel doesn't want to stop its conflict with the Palestinians, which is of course nonsense. The vast majority of Israelis would love to live in peace, as a mostly (not exclusively) Jewish island in a reasonably friendly Arab sea. It's just that many no longer think it likely. The Palestinians, through rejecting peace accords, and enforcing orthodox Islamic opinion, have clearly revealed that they will only accept a peace in which Israel no longer exists in a land Islam claims as its own. Yet despite this, Klein paints the Jews of Israel as profiting mightily from bloodshed, instead of doing what every responsible state must do: provide its people with security, as much security as is necessary given the realistic threats against it and within it.

Klein writes:
All told in 2006, Israel exported $3.4 billion in defence products–well over $1 billion more than it received in U.S. military aid. That makes Israel the fourth-largest arms dealer in the world, overtaking Britain.
As already noted, there is no secret why Israelis have had to become highly skilled in producing high quality military equipment: their much larger neighbours keep promising to wipe them off the map. Nonetheless, and even if Klein's figures are correct (and we doubt she would low-ball them), $3.4 billion in an economy whose 2006 GDP is estimated as $170.3 billion hardly justifies the portrayal of Israel as an economy built on war and blood, quite aside from the fact that spending on national security is uniquely associated with bloodshed only by nihilists who forget that any amount of peace and security must be defended, and who think that man's growing capacity to do evil must be equated with evil (as if, in a world with nuclear weapons and nuclear power, the outcome must be total devastation of the planet in nuclear war, not cheaper energy and all the social goods that go with it).

In fact, while Israel has the military or technological capacity to wipe out all the Palestinians, they do nothing of the sort. They are usually (with occasional modest and inevitable errors) the epitome of restraint when facing an enemy that vows to wipe one's people out and that increasingly allies with rogue states that will soon have the military technology to do so.

Klein concludes her outrageous diatribe thus:
Palestinians–whether living in the West Bank or what the Israeli politicians are already calling "Hamasistan"–are no longer just targets. They are guinea pigs.

So, in a way, [Tom] Friedman is right: Israel has struck oil. But the oil isn't the imagination of its techie entrepreneurs. The oil is the war on terror, the state of constant fear that creates a bottomless global demand for devices that watch, listen, contain, and target "suspects". And fear, it turns out, is the ultimate renewable resource.
There is, of course, no mention by Klein that much of what she says about Israel can be said about the Palestinians who massively prepare for war, though in somewhat less high-Tech forms, and who are thus rightly feared:
... Hamas was not using a random hit list. Every Hamas patrol carried with it a laptop containing a list of Fatah operatives in Gaza, and an identity number and a star appeared next to each name. A red star meant the operative was to be executed and a blue one meant he was to be shot in the legs - a special, cruel tactic developed by Hamas, in which the shot is fired from the back of the knee so that the kneecap is shattered when the bullet exits the other side. A black star signaled arrest, and no star meant that the Fatah member was to be beaten and released. Hamas patrols took the list with them to hospitals, where they searched for wounded Fatah officials, some of whom they beat up and some of whom they abducted.

Aside from assassinating Fatah officials, Hamas also killed innocent Palestinians, with the intention of deterring the large clans from confronting the organization. Thus it was that 10 days ago, after an hours-long gun battle that ended with Hamas overpowering the Bakr clan from the Shati refugee camp - known as a large, well-armed and dangerous family that supports Fatah - the Hamas military wing removed all the family members from their compound and lined them up against a wall. Militants selected a 14-year-old girl, two women aged 19 and 75, and two elderly men, and shot them to death in cold blood to send a message to all the armed clans of Gaza.
If Hamas will do that to fellow Palestinians, it's outrageous to claim that Israel shouldn't be afraid and that fair-minded people shouldn't see all the Israeli investment in security as an investment in saving lives. Of course, you might choose to disbelieve the above quote, because it appeared in a leftist Israeli paper, Haaretz, which buried the shocking details at the end of the story (hat tip: Boker tov, Boulder). However, you could find similar stories recently, though not given too much attention, in many news outlets. In any case, the stories of recent weeks are quickly downplayed by writers like Klein who belittle the coinage of "Hamasistan". Boker tov Boulder (Anne Lieberman), being in contrast a morally sound kind of Jew, writes:
Politically, I'm about as anti-Palestinian-Arabs as you can get, yet I am shocked and appalled at the deafening silence from the world - yet again - in the face of the rampage by Hamas in Gaza. I am shocked and appalled that in our time people are labeled with numbers and stars, and then abused and killed. That there is not worldwide condemnation is astounding.

Where are the pro-Palestinian activists now? Where are all those bleeding hearts who want Israel to see that the poor palestinians get a state, made up of Israeli concessions? It seems they have left it to us right-wing pro-Israel bloggers to raise a voice in defense of the Palestinian Arab population of Gaza. Ironic, isn't it? But I believe that no one anywhere should ever be treated like this. Not Jews, not Arabs, not any innocent population. Because it's wrong. Whatever the scale, wherever or whenever it happens. It was wrong when the Nazis did it and it's wrong now, when Hamas is doing it. And anyone who is silent in the face of this, is complicit.
Well, I don't expect Naomi Klein (a name presently receiving more than a million Google hits, btw) to be bad mouthing Hamas anytime soon. She seems to be preparing for the release of her new book - The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, which will no doubt prove as lucrative in the capitalist marketplace as her previous efforts - by allying herself, intellectually, with those forces that are creating disasters to which capitalism, and by extension its Kleins, must respond.

I remember a period of years when Klein's book No Logo was everywhere. You couldn't walk into a Chapters Bookstore here in Vancouver and not see stacks of them on the front tables. By way of contrast, consider the fate of a much better writer and a visitor to Covenant Zone (we hope to see more of him), whose book has been
effectively banned by Chapters-Indigo (read chapters 2 and 12 of Howard Rotberg's new online book to learn why), a book retailing giant that the Canadian left denounce for its owners' supposed pro-Israel stance, a business which controls something like seventy percent of the Canadian retail book market and which can thus go far in rewarding or silencing Canadian authors.

It is not a question of quality. I have just read Howard Rotberg's first, effectively banned in Canada, book (a novel which, by telling the story of a non-fiction author and his book, provides an excellent account of Israeli-Arab history and its misrepresentations by the Judeophobic opinion of the Western media and political elites who seem hell-bent on preparing the ground for the destruction of Israel in "the Second Holocaust") and highly recommend it. It is not high-brow literary experimentation; it is an accessible and excellent primer for anyone wanting to get their heads straight on why and how the state of Israel must be defended, packaged as an entertaining novel.

When Howard saw Naomi Klein's outrageous article in the Georgia Straight, Vancouver's long-established entertainment and news weekly that mixes leftist opinion (including somewhat pro-Hamas, i.e. somewhat pro-terrorist, articles) with pages mostly devoted to big colourful expensive ads for the latest products of consumer capitalism, he wrote an excellent reply. The Straight published a slightly abridged version of Howard's letter. One thing their editor didn't like was the explicit labelling of Klein as a Jewish anti-Semite. It is perhaps unfortunate that Judeophobia - i.e. resentment of the Jews for being too successful, or creative, and too resistant to competitive attack on such; for being first in discovering/receiving monotheism and all that has gone with that much-envied mark of firstness - is, in today's commonly accepted usage, still labeled "anti-Semitism" (a term which properly applies to a form of nineteenth-century European "scientific" racism and, as such, something Klein might reasonably deny).

But there can be little informed doubt that in this article Klein positions herself in a way that is inimicable to the security of millions of Jews who face a real existential threat against which they must responsibly defend. There is no doubt that Klein's case against Israel is that it is too successful in the inter-national marketplace, because it is too strong in defending itself. In other words, she ascribes to Israel the qualities the "anti-Semite" or Judeophobe (who generally wants the Jews to convert to his faith, or to disappear) traditionally ascribes to the Jew. It takes rhetorical humbug, and ignorance, to deny, as many do, that this kind of anti-Zionism is not also a form of antisemitism or Judeophobia.

So, with Howard's permission, I am pleased to provide the full text of his letter to the editor of the Georgia Straight:
So, Naomi Klein has come up with the original theory that Israel profits mightily from its situation of being surrounded by Arabs who want to destroy it. ("Israel thrives, Gaza suffers", June 21st regarding Israeli exports of anti-terrorism equipment and expertise)

No mention that Israel turned over Gaza to the Palestinians without any quid pro quo.

No mention that Israel is a leader in all aspects of high tech, with such inventions as the computer chip and cell phone technology, and a multitude of medical technology, having been pioneered in Israel. No mention that many large companies like Intel, Motorola, IBM, Microsoft, Alcatel and 3Com all have research and development facilities in Israel. Intel and Motorola also manufacture advanced products in Israel, and many other multinationals have purchased local companies, buying their patents and acquiring their human talent.

No mention that twenty percent of the country's workforce are university graduates, the highest proportion in the world after the U.S., compared with 17% in Canada, 12% in Britain and 8% in Italy. Israel has the world's highest percentage of engineers (135 per 10,000 people compared to 85 per 10,000 in the U.S.) and, with 28,000 physicians, by far the highest number of medical doctors per capita in the world. In addition, Israeli academics publish more scientific papers in international journals (110 for every 10,000 persons) than any other country in the world.

But Klein alleges that "the chaos in Gaza …doesn't threaten the bottom line in Tel Aviv and may actually boost it." No mention of the dislocations to the Israeli economy of having to defend itself from periodic attacks, having to take reservists away from their occupations, having to periodically evacuate certain cities, as Iranian-backed terrorists lob missiles across the border. No mention of the threats from possible Iran nuclear weapons.

Why doesn't she mention any of this: Because to anti-Semites like Klein (even Jewish ones), the Israelis are the new Shylocks – driven like Shylock into a business Klein disapproves of, the Jew-Israelis are now making "profits" from the suffering (even the blood) of others. Thank you, Ms. Klein for yet another adaption of the anti-Semitic blood-libel, that Jews drink the blood of Christians/Muslims/whoever.

The "constant state of fear" which Klein alleges the Israelis to be profiting from, was the result of the actions of Islamists and their supporters in anti-Israel Europe. Israel has tried in various ways (the Oslo Process, unilateral disengagement from Gaza) to facilitate an independent Palestinian state, which is lot more than the Arabs ever did. Blaming the Jewish victims of terror for Shylock-like behaviour is despicable.

Klein's article first appeared in Britain's The Guardian. Britain is the world leader in appeasement of Islamist terrorism and intimidation. There is no need, however, for the Georgia Straight to be printing this kind of stuff in Canada. It sickens me.

Howard Rotberg

Raising Hell


Most of the doctors who worked in Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals during the Korean War were very young, perhaps too young, to be doing what they were doing. They performed the definitive surgery on all the major casualties incurred by the 8th Army, the Republic of Korea Army, the Commonwealth Division and other United Nations forces. Helped by blood, antibiotics, helicopters, the tactical peculiarities of the Korean War and the youth and accompanying resiliency of their patients, they achieved the best results up to that time in the history of military surgery.

The surgeons in the MASH hospitals were exposed to extremes of hard work, leisure, tension, boredom, heat, cold, satisfaction and frustration that most of them had never faced before. Their reaction, individually and collectively, was to cope with the situation and get the job done. The various stresses, however, produced behavior in many of them that, superficially at least, seemed inconsistent with their earlier, civilian behavior patterns. A few flipped their lids, but most of them just raised hell, in a variety of ways and degrees. This is a story of some of the ways and degrees. It's also a story of some of the work.

The characters in this book are composites of people I knew, met casually, worked with, or heard about. No one in the book bears more than a coincidental resemblance to an actual person.

—Richard Hooker, M A S H: A Novel About Three Army Doctors, 1968

The publisher sent the novel to Ring Lardner, Jr. in the hope that he'd write a jacket blurb. He did.

"Not since Catch 22 has the struggle to maintain sanity in the rampant insanity of war been told in such outrageously funny terms."

He also worked to get it made into a movie. He wrote the screenplay adaptation and as screenplay adaptations go it's about as faithful to the source material a one as comes to mind. That's why I couldn't be definite earlier in the week as to what in the movie is in the book and what isn't. The football game and the ringer are there. The Congressman's son and pictures of an officer and a girl in a bed are there. The impotent dentist and the black capsule are there. Ho-Jon goes into the army. He turns up later in the operating room and then action above and beyond the call of duty is taken. He is not evacuated. They operate again to take a shell fragment out of the left pulmonary artery. They do something amusing and sacrilegious to raise money to send him to school at a small college in Maine. The last sentence in the chapter about him: Soon after, Hawkeye Pierce's old fraternity, assured by Hawkeye that Ho-Jon's prep school education had included martini mixing and crapshooting, pledged him.

The movie villains, being movie villains, have more prominent roles. Frank Burns is not depicted as being religious and is merely reassigned to a stateside hospital the day after attacking Hawkeye over some comments made about a nurse. The nurse is later told by her exasperated commanding officer to resign her [expletive deleted] commission while dressed for showering. As far as I can tell there's no mention of a bet. The provocation? Read the book and tell me what you think.

From the novel:

It took a femme fatale, however, to restore peace, more or less, to the 4077th MASH. She was major Margaret Houlihan, new Chief Nurse, and one June morning she emerged, not out of a scallop shell like Botticelli's Venus, but out of a helicopter. She was tallish, willowish, blondish, fortyish. She had a nice figure. In fact, she was a nice-looking forty-year-old female.

..."Major," Hawkeye said, "this is a team effort. I'm responsible for my team. It consists of doctors, nurses and enlisted men. We've been working as a unit for six months with little change in personnel. I'm satisfied with them."

"Well," she said, "Captain Burns isn't at all satisfied."

"Mother," said Hawkeye Pierce, "Captain Burns is a jerk, and if you don't know it by now you..."

Major Houlihan arose. "I wonder," she asked, "how anyone like you reaches a position of responsibility in the Army Medical Corps."

"Honey," answered Hawkeye, "if I knew the answer to that I sure as hell wouldn't be here."

"Very well, Captain," Major Houlihan said. "It appears that we are not going to get along. Nevertheless, I want you to know that I will attempt to cooperate with you in every possible way."

"Major," Hawkeye said, smiling, "I appreciate that, so would you consider another cup of coffee?"

Reluctantly she sat down again and resumed the talk. She was still terribly upset so Hawkeye tried to explain a few things.

"Major," he said, "You're watching both shifts. Watch them with an eye to which shift does the most work with the least fuss. Watch them with an eye to how many people work happily or unhappily."

"I observed last night that both nurses and enlisted men addressed you as 'Hawkeye'."

"That's my name."

"Such familiarity is highly improper," declaimed Major Houlihan, "and inconsistent with maximum efficiency in an organization such as this."

"Well, Major," said Hawkeye as he got up and left, "I'm gonna have a couple of shots of Scotch and go to bed. Obviously you're a female version of the Regular Army Clown. Stay away from me and my gang and we'll get along fine. See you around campus."

...and so it goes.

Movie History: The era of the production code at the big Hollywood studios came conclusively to an end with the release of Blow-Up on December 18, 1966. The full mainstreaming of graphic violence and the anti-hero as hero followed only 8 months later when Bonnie and Clyde was released on August 13, 1967. I've maintained here and elsewhere in the past that Bonnie and Clyde is, like The Jazz Singer, an important marker in movie history. MASH is an important post-Bonnie and Clyde service comedy. Mr. Roberts and No Time For Sergeants are important pre-Bonnie and Clyde service comedies.

Movie Lists: The new AFI list includes 47 (I think) movies on my list of 103 movies. The first two Godfather movies make up one entry on my list and Hiroshi Inagaki's Samurai Trilogy makes up another. Of the movies on my list definitely eligible for the AFI list the top missing favorite is the 1932 pre-code Ernst Lubitsch comedy, Trouble In Paradise. My favorite movie is not eligible for the AFI list. It is Les Quatre Cents Coups, released in the United States in 1959 as The 400 Blows. Damned literalists. It should have been called Raising Hell.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Consensual Pruning

Steve McIntyre at Climate Audit continues to point out the state of the Emperor's Clothes concerning the "science" underlying the IPCC's claim of consensus:
As an IPCC reviewer, I

Show the Briffa et al reconstruction through to its end; don’t stop in 1960. Then comment and deal with the “divergence problem” if you need to. Don’t cover up the divergence by truncating this graphic. This was done in IPCC TAR; this was misleading. (Reviewer’s comment ID #: 309-18)]

In response, IPCC section authors said:

Rejected – though note ‘divergence’ issue will be discussed, still considered inappropriate to show recent section of Briffa et al. series.
What an odd choice of words. "Inappropriate" - not "incorrect", not "inaccurate", not "unsupported", just "inappropriate".

Perhaps it's a "scientific" faux pas to display incongruent data?

Lysenko had it so much easier.


The Senate rang down the curtain on Act II of the immigration drama today to what will be decidedly mixed reviews. The "Great Compromise" can be safely archived and those Senators clever (or needful) enough to have voted on both "sides" of the bill can point to whichever vote is most helpful in their next campaign.

Nothing was done, nothing was achieved, nothing resolved - all in all a rather good day for the Senate and a fine prelude for Act III in which the "People's House" will "respond to the will of the electorate" and...

Well, that's the hard part, isn't it? After all, if existing laws were enforced, "immigration" wouldn't be an issue at all. In fact, if the Congresscritters can just hold on and continue to do absolutely nothing, time will once again cure an ill. Funny how that works.

ht - Peter UK

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Weekly Links

Nerd tatoos.

There's no absolute freedom of speech in Sweden.

Google is building a lobbying powerhouse in Washington.

This doomed star is approximately 150 times the size of the Sun.

Cheap ethanol from glycerin, from biodiesel, care of bioengineering.

France bans Canadian Blackberries on fear of US spying.

11 cures for procrastination.

New study shows Vista more secure than Linux or Macintosh OSX.

The world's best business sites. (hat tip: Buddy Larsen)

A binary adder made from marbles. (hat tip: Seneca the Younger)

Top cities for young professionals.

Sun delivers its first Blackbox data center to Stanford.

Social trip finder.

We actually belong to the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy, not to the Milky Way. Who knew?

How to cool your house.

If fire were made of water.

The essential 1,000 films.

Aurora Borealis from space.

Philosophy of History.

Quantum dots might be the key to teleportation.

Giant penguins roaming the tropics.

The UK is the worst for social mobility.

The coming global cooling.

7 secrets of the super-organized.

Chimps can be altruistic.

World's first robot construction worker.

1 in 10 Brits born overseas.

Inside China's factories.

Iranian forces cross into Iraq.

Hot rocks keep North America afloat.

Facebook vs. MySpace.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Is immigration always a good thing?

According to a new study, no.
Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam, author of Bowling Alone, is very nervous about releasing his new research, and understandably so. His five-year study shows that immigration and ethnic diversity have a devastating short- and medium-term influence on the social capital, fabric of associations, trust, and neighborliness that create and sustain communities. He fears that his work on the surprisingly negative effects of diversity will become part of the immigration debate, even though he finds that in the long run, people do forge new communities and new ties.

Putnam’s study reveals that immigration and diversity not only reduce social capital between ethnic groups, but also within the groups themselves. Trust, even for members of one’s own race, is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friendships fewer. The problem isn’t ethnic conflict or troubled racial relations, but withdrawal and isolation. Putnam writes: “In colloquial language, people living in ethnically diverse settings appear to ‘hunker down’—that is, to pull in like a turtle.”

This is one of those things so blindingly obvious that only an academic or a lefty could be surprised. Now, immigration may be necessary and in the long term it can be a plus if there is assimilation.

Though Putnam is wary of what right-wing politicians might do with his findings, the data might give pause to those on the left, and in the center as well. If he’s right, heavy immigration will inflict social deterioration for decades to come, harming immigrants as well as the native-born. Putnam is hopeful that eventually America will forge a new solidarity based on a “new, broader sense of we.” The problem is how to do that in an era of multiculturalism and disdain for assimilation.
Exactly. Immigrants need to assimilate and these days assimilation seems to be a bad word in some quarters. How to get to a broader sense of 'we' when students are taught that we are an evil nation, the civic virtues have been replaced by a I-don't-care-do-your-thing tolerance through withdrawal, and English is not required in the classroom? Even in the best of circumstances true assimilation can take many generations because folks naturally tend to marry within their own ethnic group, live in their own ethnic communities, and attend their traditional churches. This is the consequence of people feeling more comfortable among their own. I remember seeing somewhere that the Boston Irish didn't really assimilate until after WWII when people started moving out of their tight knit urban communities into suburbia. And I'll bet there was a lessening of community spirit in the process.

Let me posit a few other places where diversity might not always be the best thing. Should all colleges be coeducational? What about traditionally black colleges? What about busing? What about sports? What about ethic enclaves? I think there are pluses and minuses to all of these things. The trick is to balance a larger sense of belonging to the US with a local sense of belonging to a community, and it is not clear to me that the two are unrelated. Given time, communities will mix, but the time taken might be much longer than commonly thought. The danger is that the communities never assimilate together except during times of social upheaval and forced integration -- WWII and the armed forces being a classic example. That is probably one reason all those war movies had stereotypical representatives from the different communities: the social mixing no doubt left a permanent impression on the participants.

h/t: instapundit

Libby Reply

JUN 2 5 2007 IN T


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff- Appellee, No. 07-3068

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia


I. LEWIS LIBBY, also known as "Scooter Libby,"

D. Ct. No. CR. 05-394 (RBW) Defendant-Appellant.

Theodore V. Wells, Jr James L. Brochin
Lawrence S. Robbins Roy T. Englert, Jr. Mark T. Stancil



1285 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10019-6064 (212) 373-3089

Suite 411

Washington, DC 20006-1322 (202) 775-4500

Date: June 25, 2007

Counsel for Appellant




II 8


CONCLUSION............ .......... ......... ..... ......... „_ ..... 10




Cases: California Div. Of Labor Standards Enforcement v.

Dillingham Constr., NA., Inc., 519 U.S. 314 (1997) ......................... 5

Edmond v. United States, 520 U.S. 6.51 (1997) 1, 2, 3, 5, 6

Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988) 2, 3, 4, 5

United States v. Johnson, 802 F.2d 1459 (D.0 Cir. 986) ....... 10
United States v. Libby, 429 F. Supp, 2d 27 (D.D.C. 2006) ............... 2, 4

Weiss v. United States, 510 U.S. 163 (1994) 2
Yee v. City of Escondido, 503 U.S. 519 (1992) 7
Statutes and Regulations:

18 U.S.C. App. 3 § 6(c)(2) ......... ..... ....... ....... ...... ....„..„. 6, 7, 8

18 U.S.C. App. § 14 .... ...... ............ .......... 6

28 U.S.C. § 510 ............................... .............. 2

28 U.S.C. § 519 4

28 C.F.R. Part 600 1, 3, 4



Other Authorities:

Hearings Before House Subcomm, On Legis., Select Comm. on

Intell., 96th Cong., 1st Sess. (Sept. 20, 1979) ................................ 8

UnitedStates Attorneys' Manual 1-1.600 ............ ....... ....... ...... _ .3


When a Special Counsel is directed to exercise the "plenary" authority of the Attorney General "independent of' anyone's "supervision or control"; is exempted from the "limit[s]" of 28 C.F.R. Part 600 (which include the duty to "comply" with DOJ "rules" and "policies"); is authorized to prosecute any violation he deems "related to" his original mandate; and discharges CIPA authority that Congress reserved only to the actual Attorney General and a narrow set of other high-level officers not including the Special Counsel or U.S. Attorneys, surely it is a "close" question whether he is a "principal" officer. Special Counsel Fitzgerald, backed by Judge Walton's .30-page post-hearing memorandum ("Mem"), contends otherwise, but does so unpersuasively.

There is nothing "mysterious about [our] reading of Edmond [v, United States, 520 U,S. 651 (1997)]." Opp, 4. Edmond unequivocally held that "'inferior officers' are officers whose work is directed and supervised at some level by others who were appointed by Presidential nomination with the advice and consent of the Senate." 520 U.S. at 663 (emphasis added). If that language means what it says, then there is certainly at least a "close" question whether Special Counsel Fitzgerald is a principal officer.

Neither Judge Walton nor the Special Counsel has ever seriously grappled with the implications of Edmond. Indeed, in his first lengthy ruling on the issue, Judge Walton found no "need" to "confront th[e] analysis" of Edinond at all because he thought that Morrison (alone) is controlling. United States v. Libby, 429 F. Supp. 2d 27, 4.5 (D.D.C. 2006), Now, in his latest ruling on the matter, Judge Walton suggests that perhaps the "directed and supervised" standard in Edmond is merely one "alternative" way of determining inferior-officer status (Mem. 21). But Justice Scalia's opinion for a unanimous Court – describing this test as "evident" "generally speaking" (520 U.S. at 662-663) – strongly implies otherwise.'

The reason that this case is governed by Edmond, and not by the multi-factor standard in Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988), is not that "Morrison was eclipsed by Edmond" (Opp. 3). We make no such contention. Rather, it is doubtful that Morrison even applies when the Executive Branch, not Congress, single-handedly creates the officer whose appointment is under challenge. See Weiss v. United States, 510 U.S. 163, 194 (1994) (Souter, J., concurring)).2 Moreover, as Edmond noted, "Morrison' The Special Counsel relegates his entire discussion of Edmond to a footnote (Opp. 5 n,5) that merely restates Judge Walton's unadorned conclusion.

'It is no answer to state, as the Special Counsel does, that Fitzgerald's appointment also "involved an act of Congress" – specifically 28 U.S.C. § 510, which permits the Attorney General to delegate authority. Opp. 4 n.4. There is a world of difference between a generic delegation statute and (as in Morrison) a congressional act that expressly created the very prosecutorial office under constitutional attack.

did not purport to set forth a definitive test for whether an office is 'inferior' under the Appointments Clause," 520 U.S. at 661. By contrast, Edmond did set out a generally applicable test – and that generally applicable test strongly favors our position.

B. Even if this case is governed by the Morrison multi-factor test, however, Fitzgerald's inferior-officer status remains an exceedingly close question. That is true for several reasons,

1. First and foremost, it is (to say the least) a close question whether Fitzgerald was required (as IC Morrison was) to comply with DOJ policies. The letters appointing Fitzgerald gave him the "plenary" authority of the Attorney General – and the AG is expressly empowered to make new DOJ policy, which becomes "effective upon issuance." U.S.A.M. 1-1.600. The appointing letters also provided that Fitzgerald's "authorities" were not "defined and limited by 28 C,F,R. Part 600." The central "limit" imposed by 28 C.F.R. Part 600 is the duty to follow DOJ policies, By its plain terms, Comey's appointing language would seem to have relieved Special Counsel Fitzgerald from having to "comply" with DOJ policy. The Special Counsel contends, however, that because 28 C.F.R. Part 600 applies only to special counsel who are selected from outside DOJ, it

somehow follows that AAG Comey was not exempting Fitzgerald from DOJ policy when he exempted him from 28 C.F.R. Part 600.3 If there is any "bit of sophistry" (Opp, 6), it is this argument, not ours. Even if 28 C.F.R. Part 600 does not govern Fitzgerald by its terms, the fact remains that Mr. Comey took the trouble expressly to exempt Fitzgerald from the "limits" imposed by that law. Neither the Special Counsel nor Judge Walton ventures any explication of that exemption other than an exemption from DOJ policy.'

As Judge Walton observed during the bail hearing, a belief that Fitzgerald was subject to DOJ policy was "crucial" to his determination that Morrison is diapositive. 6/14/07 Tr. 22. In light of the explicit exemption from 28 C.F.R, Part 600 and its "limits," it is at least a "close" question whether Morrison controls.

The Special Counsel also contends that because Fitzgerald was a "Department insider," he was necessarily obligated to comply with DOJ policy. When Fitzgerald was acting as a U.S. Attorney, that was doubtless true. But when he became invested with the "plenary" authority of the Attorney General, he no longer bore all the limitations of a mere "Department insider." For example, whereas U.S. Attorneys are subject to the Attorney General's "direct[ion]" (28 U.S.C. § 519), Fitzgerald, in his Special Counsel capacity, was expressly exempted from such oversight. Moreover, Fitzgerald has conceded he was not "obligated" by at least one (pivotal) DOJ policy. 6/14/07 Tr. 47-48.

The Special Counsel attaches a post-hoc affidavit filed by Mr. Comey stating his purported "intention that the Special Counsel would follow Department policies" (Opp. Ex. E), but Judge Walton disregarded that filing as having been procured solely for litigation purposes. 429 F. Supp. 2d at 39 n.7,


Then, too, there is the breadth of Fitzgerald's jurisdiction. Unlike IC Morrison, who sought without success to secure from the Attorney General the right to pursue cases "related" to her original mandate (see 520 U.S. at 667-668), Special Counsel Fitzgerald received that authority right from the outset. "Related to" jurisdiction, it need hardly he added, is extraordinarily capacious,' The Special Counsel elides this distinction from Morrison entirely.

Judge Walton and the Special Counsel find Morrison controlling principally because, in their view, Fitzgerald is "removable at will by the Acting Attorney General," Mem, 25; see Opp. at 7, But neither Judge Walton nor the Special Counsel has explained how the after-the-fact, all-ornothing power to remove, unless coupled with the right to be informed, could constitute "direction and supervision," As Fitzgerald conceded below, he has no duty to report what he is doing to anyone. 6/14/07 Tr, 47-48.

So how, exactly, would an AAG learn enough about Fitzgerald's conduct to exercise his power of removal as a form of "direct[ion] and

See California Div. Of Labor Standards Enforcement v. Dillingham

Constr, N.A., .519 U.S. 316, 335 (1997) (Scalia, J., concurring) ("applying the 'relate to' provision according to its terms was a project doomed to failure, since, as many a curbstone philosopher has observed, everything is related to everything else").

supervis[ion]"? Fitzgerald suggests that "much information about the Special Counsel's significant investigative steps was in the public record" (Opp. 7); but, in a case shrouded both in grand jury and CIPA secrecy, that is cold comfort indeed, In this critical respect, as well, Fitzgerald enjoyed powers Alexia Morrison could only have dreamed of: If Special Counsel Fitzgerald was removable at all, it was by someone who would never learn important details of what he was doing in the first place. "[I]n the context of a Clause designed to preserve political accountabilitI' (Edmond, 520 U.S. at 663 (emphasis added)), such a hollow form of removal authority cannot possibly constitute "direction and supervision."

C. Compelling evidence that no one has exercised "supervision and control" over Fitzgerald is his now-acknowledged violation of Sections 6(c)(2) and 14 of CIPA. This dereliction has everything to do with the Appointments Clause challenge in this case.

To be clear: Special Counsel Fitzgerald signed and submitted a Section 6(c)(2) affidavit certifying that the disclosure of certain otherwise admissible classified information "would cause identifiable damage to the national security." of the United States. As both Fitzgerald and Judge Walton correctly recognize (Opp. 9; Mem. 16-17), that certification power


resides only in the actual Attorney General and certain specified delegees, not including Fitzgerald. By exercising this unlawful authority, Fitzgerald succeeded in preventing the defense from offering classified information that the district court had determined to be relevant and otherwise admissible.'

Both the Special Counsel and Judge Walton contend, however, that this CIPA dereliction sheds no light on whether Fitzgerald is a principal officer. In their view, the fact that Fitzgerald may have exceeded the authority he was given does not mean that the grant of authority itself was excessive. Surely that is a close question, however, AAG Comey never protested that his appointee was exercising authority that Congress had vested only in the Attorney General (and specified delegees). Comey either acquiesced in this exercise of CIPA authority (confirming that Fitzgerald was given powers that Congress forbade), or he never learned about that exercise (which is exactly what happens when a prosecutor is given the "plenary" powers of the Attorney General and "directed" to exercise them

Both the district court (Mem. 15-16) and the Special Counsel (Opp. 89) suggest that Libby waived this point by not raising it at the time Fitzgerald actually violated CIPA. But we are simply advancing another argument in further support of our Appointments Clause challenge. "Once a federal claim [has been] properly presented, a party can make any argument in support of that claim; parties are not limited to the precise arguments they made below." Yee V. City of Escondido, 503 U.S. 519, 534 (1992).

"independent of the supervision or control of any other officer of the Department"). Either interpretation confirms that Fitzgerald is a principal officer.

In Fitzgerald's view, his 6(c)(2) filing was purely "ministerial" because he simply "relied on an attached affidavit of a CIA representative." Opp. 10-11 & n.11.7 But that blanket deference to the CIA is precisely what Congress was trying to avoid by interposing the independent judgment of the Attorney General or other specified high officials.' By simply deferring to the affected agency – which would be institutionally biased in favor of excessive secrecy – Fitzgerald ceded away the very check-and-balance powers Congress wanted the Justice Department to exercise. If Fitzgerald was not a "principal" officer at that moment, who exactly was?

IL The Special Counsel's response on the memory-defense rulings misses two basic points. First, the fact that defense counsel predicted during the CIPA process that Libby himself would lay the relevance foundation for Fitzgerald also contends that the AG's powers under 6(c)(2) must be ministerial because the statutory language is per missive. Opp. 10-11. But the fact that the AG may choose whether or not to block the disclosure of classified information in a criminal case hardly makes that choice "ministerial."

See Hearings Before House Subcomm. On Legis., Select Comm. on Intell., 96th Cong., 1st Sess., at 145 (Sept. 20, 1979) (statement of CIA General Counsel Daniel Silver) (after CIA objects to the use of classified information, "there is vigorous debate, frequently leading to resolution only at the highest levels of the Justice Department or, on occasion, of the executive branch").


certain classified information cannot possibly foreclose the admission of the CIPA substitutes if some other relevance predicate is eventually laid, As we explained in our opening brief – and the Special Counsel does not contradict – there was more-than-ample foundation laid for both the Statement and the Briefers summaries through the testimony of other witnesses.

As for the Special Counsel's suggestion that the preclusion of this evidence was harmless (Opp. 16-17), that misapprehends the central dynamic of this trial. Only the prosecution was permitted to show the jury precisely what Libby heard and said on particular dates in June and July 2003; because Libby didn't take the stand, the defense was relegated to highly generic summaries of what Libby heard and did over a nine-month swath of time. In a case in which the central defense is that important national security matters competed in Libby's memory with information about Ms. Wilson, these rulings deprived Libby of a level playing field.

III, The Special Counsel's defense of the Andrea Mitchell ruling is especially anemic. True, Mitchell's attorney apprised the district court that, if called to the stand, his client would disavow her previous exculpatory statement. But that's why lawyers get to do cross-examination.9 In the face The fact that defense counsel declined the district court's offer to permit them to examine Mitchell outside the presence of the ,jury is scarcely a

of questioning under oath, Mitchell may have gone back to her first story – and if she didn't, the jury might have credited her first version anyway. As we explained in our opening brief (and as the Special Counsel fails to dispute), there was abundant corroboration for Mitchell's prior statement.'

Only under a truly extravagant reading of United States v. Johnson, 802 F.2d 1459 (D.C. Cir. 1986), could such routine but crucial cross-examination be precluded. But precluded it was. Because Mitchell's testimony cut right to the quick of Russert's contradiction of Libby – a proposition that the Special Counsel does not dispute – the preclusion of this vital witness is yet another close question on appeal.


For the foregoing reasons and those stated in the Application, Appellant should be granted release pending appeal.

"waive[r]" (Opp. 18 n.21) of their right to establish that Mitchell's prior story was the truth. We are unaware of any rule of criminal practice requiring defense counsel, on pains of waiver, to do a dry run of their cross-examination outside the presence of the jury.

'° The Special Counsel cites Judge Walton's description of Mitchell's prior statement as "ambiguous." Opp. 17. We implore the Court to view the Mitchell statement for itself, together with her subsequent efforts at retraction. They are attached to our application and speak loudly for themselves.


Dated: June 25, 2007 Respectfully submitted,

Theodore V. Wells, Jr,

Lawrence S. Robbins

James L. Brochin Roy T. Englert, Jr,

Mark T. Stancil


1285 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10019-6064 (212) 373-3089

1801 K Street, NW, Suite 411

Washington, DC 20006-1322 (202) 775-4500


I, Lawrence S. Robbins, certify that two copies of e forefore

in Support of Appellant's Application For Release Pending Appeal were served by hand and with courtesy copies by electronic mail on the 25th day

of June, upon:

Patrick Fitzgerald

Office of Special Counsel Bond Building

1400 New York Avenue, N. W. Ninth Floor

Washington, D.C. 20530 202514-1187

cwt CP Li,

Tuesday Movie Review: M*A*S*H

Posted by Alistair.

Last Friday the American Film Institute (AFI) released a new list of the 100 best American movies as decided by 1,500 people in and around the film business. This list remained relatively faithful to the original list that the AFI released 10 years ago. Toy Story replaced Fantasia and the epic Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring replaced the even more epic Dr. Zhivago, but changes were the exception and not the rule. For the most part, movies that were deemed list-worthy last time made their way onto the new list. Among these was Robert Altman’s 1970 film M*A*S*H, which was rated America’s 52nd best film on the original list but slipped to 58th best on this new list. High praise is not uncommon for this film, which won an Oscar for best screenplay upon its release, spawned a hit TV series, and is frequently cited by critics and movie goers as one of the best movies ever made.

As best as I can guess, the case for M*A*S*H goes something like the following: men are drafted into a war they don’t want to fight, a pointless war that reinforces the corrupt ideals and hypocritical morals that have turned their society ugly. Instead of following the system’s rules, these men behave like heroes—deconstructing the system from within. With Dadaist fervor they challenge everything their commanding officers insist on. If a “good” soldier should believe in Christ, then Hawkeye, Trapper John, and Duke will belittle the religious, replace the Bible with pornography, and generally disrupt the tyranny of religion. If a “good” American should be sexless and monogamous, then these boys will be anything but that. And if the American’s highest calling is football, well then, this lot of anti-heroes will beat the blonde, corn-fed bastard at his own game. Oh yes, there is also a plethora of jokes and breasts. It’s like Animal House with a message. Or a hysterical version of Catch-22.

Except that everything about this movie is wrong. Its jokes are largely unfunny and dated. It is spiteful of women, especially those like Nurse Houlihan who are good at their jobs and unattracted to the film’s male leads. These women must suffer brutal and unfunny sexual humiliation at every turn. This film exhibits everything that is wrong with 60s idealism while retaining nothing about it that’s right. There were, nearly all will grant, many things wrong with the morality of America in the 1950s. A lot of this involved distrust and hatred for blacks, gays, and women. M*A*S*H, with a misanthrope’s limited vision, wishes to topple the wrongs of the past. Its solution is that of a moron: since some thoughts in the past have turned out to be less than ideal we must do away with all the ideas held in the past. In the past people treated each other with respect. Not in Altman’s utopia. Everything has been redone, and all moral standards have been adjusted to serve the film’s protagonists (all except a belittling distrust and hatred of blacks, gays, and women).

The characters, having been sexually stifled in the droll atmosphere of America, let loose in the steamy, exotic Korean jungle. The sexual revolution arrives and love is free. As long as it is given freely by the film’s shallow, two-dimensional women. If it is not…well, every revolution demands sacrifice, and Nurse Houlihan pays the price to the entire camp. First when she dares to have sex with a Christian man (the nerve!) and later when the men want to determine whether she is a natural blonde. In the first instance her sex is broadcast on the radio, while in the second the entire camp gathers while the heroes expose her as she showers. Unlike the lovable idiots of Animal House, who fail again and again to score with the opposite sex, the jeering idiots of M*A*S*H, who use sexual humiliation as a weapon, have always turned my blood cold. If it was Altman’s goal to celebrate and capture the mentality that leads to rape, then I believe he succeeded.

What bothers me most about this movie is how much it fails. It would not have been terribly difficult to make us dislike a haughty religious man or a prudish uptight woman. Lord knows, both kinds of people have committed grave sins and done some horrible things. But that's not what M*A*S*H does. Robert Duvall’s character is deemed evil because he tries to teach a Korean kid who hangs out on the base about the Bible. Now, forcing your own religion on another is a pretty heinous albeit common thing, but Duvall doesn’t do this. He plays the scene with a bumbling compassion, a loser merely failing to impart what he himself loves. In another scene, Duvall yells at a nurse for selecting the wrong instrument while a patient dies. This is the closest we come to seeing his supposedly monstrous character. But the audience sees no such thing, we see rather a dedicated doctor lashing out in frustration. Duvall is guilty of cheating on his wife with Nurse Houlihan, as all the camp’s personnel are guilty of infidelity. When Hawkeye points this out to him, and disrespects Nurse Houlihan with insensitive words, he is attacked. It is the one moment in the movie at which I felt like cheering. After the fight, Duvall is dragged off to an insane asylum, and Altman has his petty victory over his own character. Those deemed sane by our normal standards have revealed their true stripes, only they haven’t really because the script is not good enough to show us how this could happen. It can barely even conjure up words of disdain for the class Duvall is supposed to represent.

Just as the film fails to make its villains unsympathetic, it utterly neglects to present its characters as likable. We are told, by the heroes themselves, that they are dedicated hard working surgeons who will stand up for everything that’s right. This moral dedication is exhibited in the operating room, in the form of making jokes while being up to the elbows in blood. No amount of blood or carnage can take the spring out of their step, or out of their libidos for that matter, as the men continue to flirt and sexually harass the nurses even at the grimmest moments of their patients' lives. There is a single moment in which the heroes act nobly. They insist on performing surgery on an ill local woman despite the chagrin of their commanding officer. Unfortunately they go on to spoil their good deed seconds later, by drugging the officer in question, stripping him naked, placing him amongst Korean whores, and blackmailing him with the photos.

The film finally loses faith in all of its own preaching and decides to limp out with a twenty minute slapstick football game. Nurse Houlihan dresses as a dirty, stupid cheerleader and acts the part. M*A*S*H lacks the strength of its own convictions. Its bad guys aren’t bad; its good guys aren’t good. It pretends to be a film about war, but is too confused to put a coherent message across or even support its own characters and ideas in the end. Some of the jokes are funny and it puts forth a good case for not putting people in the army who do not want to be there and don’t know what they are doing. Perhaps it took bravery to make an anti-war movie at the time (though even this is doubtful, as this movie came out after much of the peace movement had already happened and it lacked the chutzpah to actually talk about Vietnam itself). Other than that it fails catastrophically. Its script is weak, its story nonexistent, and although the acting is good, most of it contradicts what the script itself is attempting to tell us about the characters. It is, perhaps, the most overrated movie in existence. It is utterly undeserving of its praise by AFI or anyone else.

Robert Altman is a talented director who destroys all of his projects with his petty and contemptible loathing of other people. All of the characters in his films are brilliant exemplars of all that is rotten in the human spirit, but he has no clue as to what about the human spirit might be redeemable. For this reason M*A*S*H makes a lousy Animal House. And an even worse Catch-22.

Update: Picture of Loretta Swit replaced with one of Sally Kellerman. Thanks to JD Watson for pointing out this mistake.

New Twist

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Road to Serfdom

Few men desire liberty: The majority are satisfied with a just master.

Barry Ritholz has a rant. Barry Ritholz believes that oil is "a matter of National Security". Consequently, Barry Ritholz believes it is not only the prerogative, rather the very duty, of the Federal Government to crack down on oil usage in the United States. The government must pass laws—and quickly!—which mandate all of the following:
- Subsidies for Oil and Ethanol need to be replaced with subsidies for Solar;
- CAFE standards need to be raised;
- Expedited processing for Nuclear Power plant permits should be issued.

Barry's thinking seems to be that whenever there is an emergency, it is imperative for the Federal Government to solve it immediately, by draconian measures if necessary.

It occurs to me that there are two standard mechanisms by which our liberties are gradually removed, one for each party. Either they must be removed in the name of National Security or they must be removed in the name of Doing Good (aka Helping Poor People, Ending Poverty, Stopping Global Warming, Serving Gaia, etc.). It has famously been stated that "patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels", but I would submit that it is holier-than-thou do-gooderism which is the last refuge of mountebanks.

Reading further in Barry's rant, we discover that
I own a V8 (automatic), a straight 6 (6 speed), and a 4 cylinder (5 speed) -- so I am the last person to preach we all need to shift to Vespas and biofuels. But it's pretty apparent to even a gas hog like me that we need to do something other than send billions of dollars to terrorist nations each and every single month.

Why then, Barry, don't you do it? What, praytell, restrains you?

So, let us analyze this. In order to be spared the considerable pain of having to give up his V8 and replace it with a bicycle, or to sell off one or more of his cars, Barry demands that CAFE standards be raised abstractly, so that lots of other people are forced by the (evil) car companies into having more expensive cars with higher-mileage.

Is there not something utterly peculiar here? Is there not something rotten in the State of America? Is this the rational action of an adult free man, or the whine of a would-be child who wants to be taken care of by the nanny-state? I submit that this is not the American Way. I submit that our forefathers would have died of shame before demanding laws to protect themselves against their own actions from far-away Washington. A nation which consciously chooses sheepdom should scarcely be surprised to find that it is no longer free.

I call on you, Barry, to step up and be a free man after all. Sell your car. Do it for your country. Do it for Global Warming. We'll all be glad you did.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The coming robot revolution.

A Jacksonian follows up on the topic of robot labor. It is a good post. The divide between first and third worlds is about to become a lot wider. When you can't even sell your labor for grunt work a lot of the third world won't even be needed. What point imperialism now.
That centered on the multi-spectral sensors on gripping hands to judge fruit quality and send tactile feedback for picking of same. Since such sensors, which would include chemical sensors, do not rely on sunlight (looking more to IR and other non-visible spectra) and using chemical sensors to determine fruit quality and ripeness, one is soon in the position of picking delicate fruit (peaches, pears, apples, etc.) without the need for hand harvesting while keeping quality high. So to get an idea of jobs that humans will not need to do, by and large, lets start hitting that sector of the economy and find out just how much longer there will be jobs that *people* will need to do in the agricultural sector of the US.
h/t Fausta' s blog.

Paris Hilton to visit Al Taji Iraq

No, not really, just warming up for sweeps week. Al Taji was mentioned at The Fourth Rail because a 500 man neighborhood watch was forming up in Falahat, so I flew over with gOOgle earth to see what it looked like. There is a big US base there, if you zoom in you can see rows of parked helicopters and what are probably supply dumps and housing. Having such useful intelligence on the net seems a bit sketchy to me, but at least it isn't real time - yet. Here is an image that captures most of the base and shows the sort of information available.

Update: Rick has located proof that my daemon was speaking to me. Have I got a subconscious or what? Gaze upon the revealed truth and weep, mere humans.

Mud Wrestling Women

Do I have anything to say about the sport? No, the Glastonbury Festival is merely an excuse to go link whoring and compliment the photographer on his fine eye. Have any of you looked at the graph of daily visits since MHA started putting - ahem - quality illustrations with his posts?

Perhaps the increase is due to high quality posts from Rick and MHA, then again, perhaps it demostrates a lesson we all should know, one the media have embedded deep in their bones: s*x s*lls. And who am I to complain?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Iran accused of hosting and assisting al-Qaeda

By al-Sadr's office. No, really. What's going on? I haven't a clue, but Iraq the Model speculates.

Google is not a Software Company

Like generals fighting the last war, business executives unconsciously seek to win the last paradigm shift. In the computer industry these paradigm shifts have been formidable, frequent, and ongoing. IBM was once the well-known king of computing, operating in an era in which hardware was expensive and labor was cheap, so IBM sold hardware and gave away software for free. The software, written on punch cards, was time-consuming and laborious to create. It was simply impossible to create anything like today's complicated operating systems or immersive video games in that environment. Then Intel and Apple and cheap home computers came along and the center of value shifted from hardware to software. It was suddenly easy to buy a relatively powerful computer but difficult to obtain useful software. A huge industry emerged from virtually nowhere to supply this emergent need, including such companies as Microsoft, Oracle, Autodesk, Ashton-Tate, etc. Billions upon billions of new value was added to the economy, as IBM, unable to keep up with the new thinking, slowly faded into the background.

Beyond software lies data. Just as software needs hardware to run on, data needs software to be presented on. Much data has traditionally been unavailable, locked up in private collections or physically difficult to access libraries, even if those libraries were ostensibly public. Or it simply wasn't digital yet. By "data" here I don't mean stacks of sales records, as in the old IBM days, but rather the totality of all content that people wish to share and present to others. "Content" includes word documents, KML-generated maps, mp3 songs, and YouTube videos. The introduction of the Internet has thoroughly transformed the relationship of data to software, just as the introduction of the integrated circuit transformed the relationship of software to hardware, so that software has now become very cheap or free, and it is the content itself, the "data", which has assumed the position of maximal value to consumers, displacing software exactly as software in an earlier era displaced hardware. Google seems to have grasped this fundamental point while Microsoft seems to have missed it. This may be what Paul Graham means when he says "Microsoft is dead"—it's dead in the same way IBM is dead, simply stuck in the last paradigm, unable to come to grips with the new world in which it lives, increasingly irrelevant.

A single worldwide Internet does not require multiple points of access, multiple on-ramps. Users dislike having to go to different places to find different things. It is much more convenient to have a single place at which to start in order to find everything, and Google is well down the path toward creating this universal portal. What is much more convenient usually wins in the long run. Google is not a data company per se—the world already provides plenty of those; in fact, we're all creating data all the time all day long—rather, Google seeks to be the world's great data-organizer, the single aggregator of all the exabytes of data being continually produced yearly by humanity. It is only in this light that its acquisition of YouTube and its acquisition of Blogger (among many others) makes perfect sense. Bloggers are providing data to Google for free, in much the same way that people searching on Google are spending their days entering data into Google's databases, for free, day in and day out. The most expensive part of the whole computing enterprise continues to be data entry, and Google has discovered how to get the world to enter data for free and love it in the process. Likewise, Gmail constitutes yet another method by which free data is created and entered into Google's databases voluntarily by the world. Ask yourself how many times a day you enter free data for Google into Google's omnivorous and secretive database.

Is there room in this town for two or more search engines, when one of them offers a smorgasbord of choices and connections, everything one could want from music to movies to books at one's literal fingertips, while the others are broken and fragmentary and only partially successful at best? It seems unlikely. It is often said that Google is an advertising company, but this again misses the point entirely. Advertising is merely the first mechanism by which Google has chosen to monetize the immense value that it is creating by becoming the world's single portal to the world's data. There will be others. Google does know exactly what you have been searching for and that knowledge has enormous value, both commercially to Google and to governments, both foreign and domestic. It will only be a matter of time until that tremendous value is unlocked.

An Interesting Chart

The following chart is worthy of some study. Nominal GDP vs. yield on the long bonds. Periods of low interest rates tend to give rise to inflation and periods of high interest rates tend to give rise to disinflation. But, as with global warming, what is cause and what is effect?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Airbrushing The War - Part N

I just read that the new film, A Mighty Heart "was designed to celebrate dialogue of people of diverse backgrounds and faith."

If that is the case, I reckon the video of Danny Pearl's utterly barbaric murder, still available online, is rather more honest and informative.

Surrender or Die

Yon again. I sure share his sense of frustration as outlined:
There are serious technical problems that I have brought up privately to high-ranking PAO officers over the past nearly two years which persist today, despite that any one of them could be easily resolved with better planning on the part of PAO. I’ve found that communicating with them privately is generally useless. (Obviously, as the problems persist.) A person has got to tell a million people before they are heard. Since it will affect how the news from here gets reported, and since I know the other writers here are often afraid to speak up about this stuff (one senior PAO officer actually threatened to kick me out a few months ago), I’ll take the heat on telling the million people:

I could be in combat now, but have been wasting time trying to get a badge to get into the dining facility. Got one. Not a big deal, until you add that up for 20 reporters all wasting part of their very limited time (we are in a war), and soldiers’ time (they are fighting it) getting ridiculous paperwork when the Press ID could simply say, “Unescorted access to dining facilities is authorized. Please call DSN 867 5309 with any questions.” Simple solution. I have wasted hours on the issue of eating over the past few days. It adds up when your time windows open and close unpredictably and rapidly.

The fact that cell phones would become inoperable (satellite phones too) wasn't hidden from the PAO prior to kickoff. Cutting enemy communications at the onset of a battle isn't exactly a new concept. The PAOs can and should do a better job.

The other item reported that is troublesome is the lack of support from local military commanders. Yon didn't make it crystal clear but I don't take this as criticism of the IA units that are performing the blocking operations outside of the town but of the local garrison which wasn't assigned a combat role at all. The inertia reflected in Yon's statement that:
This is where the inept local Iraqi commanders come in. I’ve seen them in meeting after meeting, over the past few days, finding ways to be underachievers. The Iraqi commanders have dozens of large trucks and have only to drive to our base to collect the supplies and distribute those supplies to the people displaced in the battle.
coupled with Odierno's 'end state' remarks indicate a mismatch of expectations and reality.

Watch for the humanitarian non-crisis to get blown out of proportion by the MSM in the same manner that Fox blew Katrina into a crisis by focusing on locals inability to walk off a damn overpass. If the Iraqis won't get off their collective ass then the area commander better get some contract haulers in to move food and water tout suite. Otherwise we'll see a baby meme grow up in 48 hours.

Where is this?

My humble apologies, gentle readers, it would seem that in my zeal to stump Skookumchuk I only succeeded in stumping everyone. It was a pyrrhic victory I assure you. I promise to try to refine the process as we proceed.

Answer to last week's puzzle: Ft. Worth, looking south from the Heritage Park along the river.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Musical shock

(Details here.)

Arrowhead Ripper

Yon again:
Nobody is dropping leaflets asking them to surrender. Our guys want to kill them, and that’s the plan.

A positive indicator on the 19th and the 20th is that most local people apparently are happy that al Qaeda is being trapped and killed. Civilians are pointing out IEDs and enemy fighters, so that’s not working so well for al Qaeda. Clearly, I cannot do a census, but that says something about the locals.

Bill Roggio has a lot more. This is certainly the most important operation undertaken within the past two years and there is one (1) MSM reporter on site in Baquba? Looking around a bit, it appears that the propaganda organs of the Democratic Party are still focused upon providing support for the Dem's AQ allies. The headlines are all pointing at our losses without mention of the fact that a heavy and wide offensive has begun.

It's a shame that CNN and the others aren't embedded with AQ forces. That's where they belong and the new ROE would give them an entirely different perspective, albeit, for a very short time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Weekly Links

Ethanol production is eating our lunch.

China is blocking Flickr.

Decorative pencils.

World's cheapest car.

Nitrogen pollution is causing trees to soak up more CO2 from the atmosphere.

The feathered dino explained.

Rome reborn.

Talking jewelry.

23 ways to improve your work life.

Over a thousand parents named their daughters "Unique" during this decade. I guess they aren't.

The seven engineering wonders of the world.

Scramjet hits Mach 10.

Is Google scarier than the FBI?

Venezuela launches the sale of "Bolivarian" linux-based computers for the masses.

How motherboards are made.

The full panoramic view from Everest.

A new particle was discovered at Fermilab, one representing all three families of quarks for the first time.

The SEC just ended an important safeguard in the stock markets. Will this be another example of being condemned to repeat history?

In nature, bacteria emit proteins to sweep up nanoparticles into innocuous clumps.

Totalitarian communist and Gaiaist propaganda compared.

Thousands of pearls found.

Deja vu explained.

Too much sex in the Bible?

The Jefferson Memorial is sinking.

It's now legal for women to be topless in New York.

Space colonization may be hopeless. (hat tip: Luther McLeod)

Why the Soviet Union collapsed.

What people are doing online and which demographic groups participate.

How to give yourself a good life.

Chinese slaves freed.

Calculations with two qubits were successfully performed for the first time.

Floating sand.

Microinjection of materials into a single cell at the nano-level.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Stars Have Spoken

The presidential nominees will be Clinton and Thompson. Now you can enjoy your summer vacations and stop worrying about the campaigns. Instead, you can pass the time deriding my so called intelligence and searching out new synonyms for obtuse.

Yon - The Surge Begins - Baquba

Yon's writing in his first surge dispatch is somewhat more florid than I've become accustomed to from him. It is full of hope and written without flinching. I rate it a "must read" for those who wish to actually follow this battle with fact based reporting.

Petraeus has bet the ranch on this offensive and may well take the pot. AQ's retreat from Anbar to Diyala cuts off their line of retreat to Saudia Arabia and Syria. Getting to Iran from Diyala by going east isn't easy at all and I'm positive that the Kurds would make retreat north less inviting than dying in place.

This is a decent map of the area.

Yon doesn't mention the Shia militias but I won't be surprised to read of extensive action against them in conjunction with the drive on Baquba. They have to have their wings clipped in order for Iraq to have a chance at remaining a single sovereign state.

UPDATE: Bill Roggio has additional detail plus quite a bit of detail in comments.